Father Joseph Illo, pastor of Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco, gave a 12-minute homily on Sunday, January 30.

Father welcomed the students and faculty of the classical school associated with the parish and explained that the night before there had taken place the dramatization of Venerable Father Augustus Tolton, the African-American priest from Illinois.

“People were weeping, clapping. Bishop Barber was in the audience and on fire, saying he wants to bring this to his diocese of Oakland.”

Then Father Illo spoke on the subject of Catholic schools: “Catholic schools are a prophetic voice. Catholic schools began with Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton  in Baltimore in 1809.

“Catholic  schools were established for poor children. But over the years many schools have lost their foundational purpose. Many schools became private institutions for middle and upper-class children, most of whom were non-Catholics or non-practicing Catholics.

“Catholic schools used to be on fire for the Gospel. But many of them no longer teach the full Gospel of Jesus Christ with conviction. They avoid teachings that would make their many non-believing families uncomfortable.

“That’s what I experienced and all priests I talk to experience.

“When I came to Star of the Sea in 2014, the archbishop directed me to improve the school’s Catholic identity.

“Within a few months a  small group of parents were trying to force me out. At a meeting some of them asked me what I wanted Star of the Sea to teach about abortion or same-sex marriage. I replied that our school would teach Catholic truth and Christ’s Gospel as found in the Bible and in the Catechism.”

15-second excerpt:

“One of the moms spoke and said flat-out, ‘We don’t want Catholic truth, we don’t want the Gospel. We want Catholic values. Values change. Values are adaptable to the culture. Catholic truth does not change.'”